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SAS Aims to Set a Higher Standard for the Airline Industry

With a new strategic platform that focuses on four central areas, SAS wants to continue to build on its positive trend and ultimately set a higher standard within aviation.

With its previous strategy, Core SAS, the airline has reduced unit costs by 23% since 2008, whilst at the same time achieving the highest customer satisfaction in 11 years and positioning itself as Europe's most punctual airline for the past two and a half years. This has provided SAS with a platform that the new strategy will build on and strengthen. The airline today launched its new focus, the strategy 4EXCELLENCE, which has the goal to - by 2015 - achieve excellence within four cornerstones: Commercial Excellence; Sales Excellence; Operational Excellence; and People Excellence.

SAS is to maintain its position as the first-hand choice for business travelers, but will expand its offerings to strengthen its market share within the leisure travel segment.

"SAS is to be the preferred choice for Nordic travelers, whatever the purpose of their journey. Although we already have a record-high customer satisfaction level, we will offer an even better and more harmonized service, including Economy Extra on domestic routes in Scandinavia," said Rickard Gustafson, CEO, SAS.

SAS will also create a more efficient sales model, as well as ensure that its frequent flyer program, EuroBonus, is the most attractive loyalty program in the market. Its position as Europe's most punctual airline is to be maintained and SAS is to deliver a quality and service that provide customers with the most value both in terms of time and money.

An important prerequisite to achieve sustainable profitability is SAS's new goal to lower unit costs by 3-5% annually until 2015. This will be achieved by continued cost reductions, but also by strengthened focus on productivity improvements, including rolling out the quality and efficiency programme Lean across all parts of the organisation.

"I'm setting high, but realistic goals for SAS as I know we have extremely passionate, focused and competent staff in all parts of the company. We want to set our employees' potentials free by great leadership and improve focus on those who are in direct contact with our customers. Introducing Performance Management will provide a leadership tool for systematic goal setting, follow ups and coaching. All employees are to understand how they contribute to SAS's overall goal," said Gustafson.

New group management in line with new strategy

Meanwhile, at the same time, the group management is being restructured to become broader and more clearly based on the four excellence areas of the strategy.

"The successful implementation of Core SAS has meant that we now have much better conditions as we begin implementing 4EXCELLENCE," said Gustafson.

As a result of the new strategy and the fact that SAS has changed from a holding structure with several subsidiaries to become one functionally organised airline, Gustafson has decided to appoint a new management team. "I have decided to appoint a broader management group with responsibilities that are clearly based on the four excellence areas in the strategy," he said.

The Group Management will in the future apart from Gustafson consist of CFO and Deputy President Göran Jansson, Deputy President Henriette Fenger Ellekrog with responsibility for HR and Communication, Flemming Jensen with responsibility for Operations, Benny Zakrisson with responsibility for Infrastructure, and Chief Legal Officer Mats Lönnkvist. The management group will also include a new head of Commercial and a new head of Sales and Marketing.

Now that the Core SAS strategy has reached its completion, Deputy President John Dueholm will end his operational responsibility at SAS as planned. Dueholm is not to leave SAS, however, until spring 2012 as he will continue as the spokesperson for SAS Group subsidiaries Widerøe and Blue, as well as act as advisor to the CEO.

"I have greatly valued the close cooperation that John and I have had since I joined in February this year. I have been able to benefit from his many years of experience and I am pleased that I will be able to take advantage of this for a bit longer," said Gustafson.

Chief Commercial Officer Robin Kamark has decided to leave SAS, but will continue as CCO and as a member of the Group Management with responsibility for commercial functions as a whole at SAS until the two new heads are appointed - which will be no later than March 2012.

"When new structures are established and when an organisation changes, you should always ask yourself if you want to be part of the future organisation. After careful consideration, I have decided that I would like to pursue my career outside SAS," said Kamark.

"Robin Kamark has worked incredibly hard for SAS and I wish him every success in his future career," concluded Gustafson.